Walgreens Puts Four Pharmacists on Unpaid Leave

St.Louis, Walgreen Co. said it has put four Illinois pharmacists in the St. Louis area on unpaid leave for refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception in violation of state law.

The four cited religious or moral objections to filling prescriptions for the morning-after pill and indicated they wanted to maintain their right to refuse to dispense which would put them in violation of state law. A rule imposed by Governor Rod Blagojevich in April requires Illinois pharmacies that sell contraceptives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

An attorney for the pharmacists said they would consider legal action if Walgreen’s did not reconsider. A spokesperson for Walgreen’s said the pharmacists would remain on unpaid leave until they either decide to abide by Illinois law or relocate to another state without such a law.

Walgreen policy says pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions to which they are morally opposed—except where state law prohibits—but they must take steps to have it filled by another pharmacist or store.

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